Events and opportunities by Lucija Ropret

COGSTEPS launch events organized in Croatia, Austria and Slovenia

The project, which began in September 2020, worth more than 350 thousand euros, involves the University of Zagreb Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (UniZg-FER), Zagreb Innovation Centre (ZICER), University of Ljubljana (UL), Ljubljana University Incubator (LUI), Graz University of Technology (TUG) and Know-Center. With the idea to present the project to local innovation and startup communities, launch events in Zagreb, Ljubljana and Graz were organized. The goal of the events was to present the project, the results achieved in the first year and the work plan for the following year. More than 100 participants attended the events and showed great interest in the project activities.

The Erasmus+ project entitled Crossing the Gap: Startup education and support for PhD students, researchers and scientists (COGSTEPS) was presented at the Zagreb Innovation Center on November 11th. During the presentation of the project, the Program Manager of the COGSTEPS project Matija Srbić presented the results of the study of good practices for connecting researchers and scientists with the startup ecosystem, progress made so far regarding the development of the COGSTEPS education, matchmaking and recommendation web platform and announced the Startup 101 bootcamp.

In addition to the COGSTEPS project, the activities of startup incubators in Croatia were presented. UniZg-FER’s SPOCK incubator was presented by Matija Srbić, Infobip Startup Tribe by Nikola Pavešić, Fil Rouge Capital by Stevica Kuharski, Algebra Lab by Maja Brkljačić, ZICER by Ana Vlahov, BIRD Incubator by Željko Krizmanić and the Center for Research, Development and Technology Transfer of the University of Zagreb by Dr. Sc. Ana Branka Jerbić. During the networking event after the presentations of all stakeholders, multiple stakeholders expressed their interest to become the early adopters of the COGSTEPS web platform and start helping researchers and scientists to start their startups.

In Graz, the event took place in the newly refurbished premises of Lendhafen on November 16th.  The COGSTEPS project was presented by Emanuel Lacić, Operations Area Manager at Know-Center, and Tomislav Đuričić, Assistant at TU Graz, to the important stakeholders in the Graz startup ecosystem. The upcoming activities were announced, as well as the current status of the web platform. Presenting the ideas on recommendation and matchmaking use-cases on the platform sparked interesting discussions and provided valuable feedback for further development.

In Ljubljana, COGSTEPS was presented by Jakob Gajšek, Director of Ljubljana University Incubator, on the 23rd of November at the National Institute of Chemistry. The main goal was to bring together stakeholders from research institutes (researchers and Technology Transfer Offices (TTO) staff), mentors, investors and entrepreneurs, as well as introduce the project, its aims and the platform that could help researchers and their respective TTO’s to commercialize inventions through spin-outs.

Besides introducing the COGSTEPS project and platform, TTO’s and researchers were given a perspective on spin-outs from different angles because they have many fears and excuses why spin-out is not possible. On the panel, speakers Dr. Vojka Žunič (Head of TTO at National Institute for Chemistry), Mag. Robert Blatnik (Senior Technology Manager at Center for technology transfer and innovation Jožef Stefan Institute), Dr. Nejc Škoberne (Researcher, Co-founder of spin-out Genialis, Serial Entrepreneur) and Dr. Uroš Novak (Researcher at National Institute for chemistry, co-founder and Advisor on several spin-outs) talked about spin-out “myths” and their experiences and thoughts.

Organizing such events in the current epidemiologic situation and in three different countries was definitely challenging and we would like to thank once again everyone in the organization team as well as each of the participants for joining us. Thank you for your support and we hope this is just the beginning of many collaboration opportunities in the future.

The training program within the project begins in January 2022 with the Startup 101 bootcamp, which will be attended by researchers, scientists and professors from Croatia, Slovenia and Austria. The five-day training will enable participants to master startup terminology and get acquainted with the startup basics.

More details regarding the application for the Startup 101 bootcamp will be announced soon!